The old adage “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” is ringing true for the Marauders.
Through the past two games, McMaster struggled to keep their turnovers down, going beyond their 17.5 season average in their past two games against Windsor and Waterloo and the reason for the problems is the injury to point guard Adam Presutti.
On Jan. 16’s match against the Windsor Lancers, the Marauders turned the ball over 24 times, a season-high. Mac held a 32-15 lead over the No. 8-ranked team in the CIS after the first quarter but ended up losing the game, 93-77. Head coach Amos Connolly offered a simple explanation for how McMaster dropped their first game against the Lancers:
“Not having a point guard is one thing. Not having someone who wants to be a point guard is the next thing. That’s a by-product of being a little bit intimidated by [Windsor’s] pressure.”
Presutti has been battling injuries all season but the Marauders were able to get by in games without the former CIS Rookie of the Year. Second-year guard Aaron Redpath is a capable replacement, but as Coach Connolly will tell you, this team is at its best when Presutti is running the point.
The calm play and smart decision-making of Presutti were exactly what McMaster needed to pull out a victory over the Lancers. But Windsor is a talented basketball team, masterfully put together by complimenting their core of players with transfers and young recruits. It’s possible to point to the athleticism of the southern Ontario school for an explanation for the ball-handling troubles, but the issues spilled over into the next game against Waterloo.
As Mac hit the road for their tilt against the bottom feeders of the OUA West, the team was expected to grab an easy win. But the turnover troubles of the previous game prevented the Maroon and Grey from establishing any sort of offensive rhythm. Waterloo hung around before Taylor Black took his game to another level and tore apart the Warrior defence.
Black used a mix of inside and outside scoring to carry the Marauders to victory, with the game ending in an 81-70 tally. While satisfied with the result, Mac’s bench boss was frustrated with the lack of accountability that players hold each other to.
“Great teams hold themselves accountable without getting all ‘this sucks’. We’re not even at that phase yet,” said Connolly.
But the head coach does celebrate the “care factor” of his team, touting them as the team with the most passion that he has ever coached. This factor is a building block for a young team, and shines through when McMaster is put in the underdog position.
With Mac hosting the Brock Badgers on Jan. 26 for Marauder Weekend, this care factor will be on full display in front of a packed Burridge Gym. Brock will be looking for revenge after suffering a slim six-point loss at the hands of Mac. Connolly says the team is “hopeful” that Presutti will return for the home crowd.